Newsroom: Press Release Archive: May 2007
  • May 30, 2007: ADEQ Director Steve Owens Announces Additional $115,000 Grant to Winslow to Finish Cleanup of "Standin' on the Corner" Site
  • May 21, 2007: ADEQ Cites ASARCO for Water Quality Violations at Hayden Mine
  • May 17, 2007: ADEQ Extends Health Watch for Christopher Creek and Payson Areas Due to Smoke from the Promontory Fire
  • May 16, 2007: ADEQ Issues Health Watch for Christopher Creek and Payson Areas Due to Smoke from the Promontory Fire
  • May 15, 2007: ADEQ Monitoring Smoke from Promontory Fire near Payson
  • May 7, 2007: Attorney General Goddard and ADEQ Director Owens Announce Clean Harbors to Pay $45,000 Penalty for Hazardous Waste Violations in South Phoenix (en Español)
  • May 3, 2007: ADEQ Issues High Pollution Advisory for Particulate Matter for Friday, May 4

ADEQ Director Steve Owens Announces Additional $115,000 Grant to Winslow to Finish Cleanup of "Standin' on the Corner" Site
ADEQ Funding to City Now Totals $315,000

PHOENIX (May 30, 2007) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that ADEQ is awarding an additional $115,000 grant to the City of Winslow in Navajo County to finish the cleanup of the "Standin' on the Corner" monument and reopen the park at the site.

The new award brings ADEQ's total funding for the cleanup to $315,000, which is the largest amount of funding ADEQ has ever provided to a community under the department's Brownfields State Response Grant program. "This is an unprecedented amount of money under our Brownfields program," Owens said, "but it will be worth every penny of it to get the Standin' on the Corner site cleaned up and the park reopened."

Owens said that ADEQ has previously provided roughly $200,000 to Winslow for the cleanup, but it recently became clear that additional funding is needed to complete the cleanup because of recent complications on the site. Because the money is coming from federal dollars under ADEQ's Brownfields program, however, ADEQ had to receive a special waiver from EPA to give Winslow more than $200,000. Owens added that because of the importance of this cleanup project, he personally contacted EPA's Deputy Administrator in Washington, DC, the second-in-command at the agency, to expedite approval of the waiver.

"The Standin' on the Corner monument is a very special place, and we put on a full-court press to get the waiver approved," Owens said. "Winslow deserves the extra money, and we appreciate EPA's willingness to work with us to provide the funding to the City."

The Standin' on the Corner park and monument were closed after a fire gutted the former J.C. Penney/Rasco Building in October 2004 and created an environmental hazard. A mural on an exterior wall of the building is an integral part of the park, but fire damage rendered the wall unstable, making the park unsafe for visitors. Concerns about asbestos contamination in the charred rubble have prevented efforts to remove the debris and reopen the park.

The City of Winslow has been implementing a cleanup plan with the grant funds provided by ADEQ. In addition to providing the funding, ADEQ will continue to work with the city and provide technical oversight of the cleanup.

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ADEQ Cites ASARCO for Water Quality Violations at Hayden Mine

PHOENIX (May 21, 2007) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that ADEQ has issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) to ASARCO Hayden for water quality violations at the company's mine in Pinal County.

In February, a pipeline that pumps mine tailings to one of the on-site tailings ponds at ASARCO's Hayden facility ruptured and discharged over 18,000 pounds of mine tailings into the Gila River flood plain near the facility and into the Gila River itself. Approximately 16,000 pounds of tailings were discharged into the Gila River flood plain and approximately 2,000 pounds of tailings were discharged directly into the flowing Gila River.

"This was an unacceptable discharge that threatened water quality and other natural resources in the area," said Director Owens. "ASARCO must not let this happen again."

The discharged mine tailings consist of crushed rock and metals, including lead and arsenic. ASARCO manually removed the tailings that were discharged to the Gila River flood plain, but the tailings discharged into the river were carried downstream and could not be removed.

The NOV requires ASARCO Hayden to take action to avoid another pipeline rupture and to advise ADEQ within 90 days of the action taken.

A Notice of Violation is a compliance tool used by ADEQ to put a party on notice that the agency believes a significant violation of environmental law has occurred.

Owens said that ASARCO could face civil penalties for the violation.

ASARCO recently paid a $77,500 penalty for air quality violations at the Hayden facility due to blowing mine tailings.

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ADEQ Extends Health Watch for Christopher Creek and Payson Areas Due to Smoke from the Promontory Fire

PHOENIX (May 17, 2007) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens said today that ADEQ has extended an air pollution Health Watch through Monday, May 21 for the Christopher Creek area and surrounding areas west to Payson in Gila County due to smoke from the Promontory Fire.

ADEQ issues a Health Watch when pollution levels have reached a point at which people with respiratory or other health problems that make them more sensitive to air pollution need to be advised and limit their outdoor activity.

"We are extending the Health Watch out of an abundance of caution and in light of forecast weather conditions and continuing efforts to control the fire," Owens said. "Residents with asthma or other respiratory problems, especially children and seniors, should consider taking precautions, such as remaining indoors or limiting their activity, especially if they smell or see smoke from the Promontory Fire."

The highest concentrations of smoke will likely occur in the early morning hours, Owens added.

Specific health-related impacts from the smoke will depend largely on the direction the wind is blowing. Residents are encouraged to refer to the Wildfire Emergency Response Plan developed by Arizona Department of Health Services and ADEQ last year. It provides a method to estimate the Air Quality based on visual range and the actions that the public should take to protect themselves.

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ADEQ Issues Health Watch for Christopher Creek and Payson Areas Due to Smoke from the Promontory Fire

PHOENIX (May 16, 2007) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens said today that ADEQ has issued an air pollution Health Watch for Thursday, May 17 for the Christopher Creek area and surrounding areas west to Payson in Gila County due to smoke from the Promontory Fire.

ADEQ issues a Health Watch when pollution levels have reached a point at which people with respiratory or other health problems that make them more sensitive to air pollution need to be advised and limit their outdoor activity.

"We are issuing the Health Watch out of an abundance of caution," Owens said. "Residents with asthma or other respiratory problems, especially children and seniors, should consider taking precautions, such as remaining indoors or limiting their activity, especially if they smell or see smoke from the Promontory Fire."

The highest concentrations of smoke will likely occur in the early morning hours, Owens added.

Specific health-related impacts from the smoke will depend largely on the direction the wind is blowing. Residents are encouraged to refer to the Wildfire Emergency Response Plan developed by Arizona Department of Health Services and ADEQ last year. It provides a method to estimate the Air Quality based on visual range and the actions that the public should take to protect themselves.

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ADEQ Monitoring Smoke from Promontory Fire near Payson

PHOENIX (May 15, 2007) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today deployed air quality monitoring equipment in Gila County to monitor ambient air quality around the Promontory Fire burning northeast of Payson.

Two mobile air quality monitoring units have been deployed to areas south and west of the fire. The fire, which started Sunday, has consumed more than 900 acres.

"This monitoring equipment will enable us to keep track of any significant impact from the smoke and notify the public if it poses a risk to area residents," Owens said. "We want to make sure that we take every precaution to protect area residents from any potential health effects from the smoke."

ADEQ's air quality monitoring equipment will collect and assess data for particulate matter, a major air pollutant found in wildfire smoke.

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Attorney General Goddard and ADEQ Director Owens Announce Clean Harbors to Pay $45,000 Penalty for Hazardous Waste Violations in South Phoenix

PHOENIX (May 7, 2007) -- Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard and ADEQ Director Steve Owens today announced that Clean Harbors Arizona, LLC (Clean Harbors) has agreed to pay a $45,000 penalty for hazardous waste violations at the company's south Phoenix facility.

Clean Harbors operates a hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facility in south Phoenix. ADEQ's hazardous waste inspectors observed several violations of environmental regulations during an inspection in July 2005. ADEQ issued a Notice of Violation to Clean Harbors in September 2005, citing several hazardous waste violations including failure to conduct daily inspections of tanks, failure to transfer hazardous waste from a leaking or compromised container, failure to amend the contingency plan and failure to minimize the possibility of fire, explosion or release of hazardous waste.

Two violations were repeat violations initially discovered during an inspection of the facility in 2004, for which the company received a Notice of Violation in September 2004.

"These were serious violations of our hazardous waste laws," Owens said. "Clean Harbors must ensure that violations like these do not occur again."

"I am committed to enforcing the laws that protect human health and the environment. Companies that violate these laws will be held accountable," Goddard said.

Clean Harbors' Phoenix-based facility is located at 1340 West Lincoln Street.

The consent judgment is subject to court approval.

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ADEQ Issues High Pollution Advisory for Particulate Matter for Friday, May 4

PHOENIX (May 3, 2007) -- The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has issued a High Pollution Advisory (HPA) for Friday, May 4 for the Phoenix metropolitan area due to forecast weather conditions which are expected to generate levels of coarse Particulate Matter 10 (PM10) or dust that could exceed unhealthy levels.

The HPA is being issued for Friday because windy conditions are expected to result in unhealthy levels of airborne PM10 particles. It is the second HPA issued for 2007.

ADEQ recommends that children and adults with respiratory problems avoid outdoor activities on Friday and suggests that the general public limit outdoor activity throughout the day. Employers participating in the Valley''s Trip Reduction Program should implement their pollution reduction action plans and all Valley residents should reduce particulate matter-producing emissions by taking the following steps:

  • Car pool, use mass transit, telecommute and/or reduce driving.
  • Avoid using gas-powered lawn and garden equipment.
  • Avoid activities that generate dust, such as driving on dirt roads.
  • Stabilize loose soils.
  • Eliminate fireplace and wood stove use.

"A High Pollution Advisory for PM10 in the month of May is rare, but we are experiencing a weather pattern that will bring high winds to the Valley and stir up a lot of dust," said ADEQ Director Steve Owens. ""This just underscores the need to get the Valley's particulate pollution problem under control."

PM10 refers to particles that are 10 micrometers in diameter or smaller. Once inhaled, these particles can affect the heart and lungs and cause serious health effects, including increased respiratory symptoms, irritation of the airways, coughing, difficulty breathing, decreased lung function, aggravated asthma, development of chronic bronchitis, irregular heartbeat, nonfatal heart attacks, and premature death in people with heart or lung disease.

Daily air quality forecasts are located on ADEQ's Web site or by telephone at (602) 771-2367. Those interested in receiving the air quality forecast via email can subscribe to our daily forecast list.

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